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Editorial-If the legal system is not to remain a mere spectator

20 May 2014 07:02 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Attorney General Palitha Fernando speaking at the ceremonial sitting of the Supreme Court to welcome three new judges of the bench has made a very pertinent observation that all in the legal and judicial systems should take note that. Mr. Fernando had said that the country’s legal system should move with the times to cater to the modern requirements and aspirations of the people or else it would lose p ublic confidence.

“We cannot remain stagnant spectators in a fast changing world any longer,” he had said.
He went on to stress that inordinate delays in the law enforcement process have served to erode public confidence in the system and could have a corrosive effect on the Rule of Law itself. No one could have described a crisis in the system that few in the field would recognize, other than the Attorney General himself.

This is one main reason why the vast majority of the population seems to silently approve the recent trend where certain criminals and notorious gangsters are killed in exchange of fire with police after they go to show ‘hidden weapons.’ Even small children by now know what the real story is when the police spokesman comes in the media and tell that a particular criminal who was caught tried to escape and was killed when he tried to grab the policeman’s weapon or some such similar story.
Whatever the downside of this trend is and how much it is being abhorred by the Human Rights activists and the Colombo intelligentsia, this process seems to have struck a chord with the masses who would quite pithily say: “What else to do than kill the fellow or else the court case would drag on for years and finally he would escape with a small punishment.”

Whether you agree with it or not, it should be accepted that those who say so have a valid point. These are the real problems in the legal system that need to be urgently addressed by those in the field.

"This is one main reason why the vast majority of the population seems to silently approve the recent trend where certain criminals and notorious gangsters are killed in exchange of fire with police after they go to show ‘hidden weapons"


Mr. Fernando has quite correctly noted that the system should move with the times and cater to the present needs of the society. It is no doubt that hardly would the masses identify with the legal system in this country which continues to be a remnant of the colonial past. Not only are some of the procedures and practices simple anachronisms that are only there to protect the interests of lawyers and those within the system but they are also used to exploit the masses who have little knowledge of the system. The system which was created by the colonial masters to protect their interests and the interests their loyalists seems to continue still with conclaves of elitist elements still dominating it.

This may be one reason why most of the causes taken up very highly by the lawyers seem to strike little resonance with the masses. Ask any person who would have even once been to a court about what they think of those in the legal profession and you would have the answer.

Therefore the system urgently needs to reexamine itself and adapt to the traditions, culture, the needs and the aspirations of the masses of the country. A system that only perpetuates itself would not win the confidence of the general public unless changes are made so that they can identify with it. The Attorney General’s words should be taken seriously and all in the system should act fast not just to protect the self-interests of groups within the system but to serve the masses of the country.
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